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Cuba: balance of Diaz-Canel's first year in the presidency

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It has been a year since the president took office under the promise to give continuity to the Revolution

Cuba: balance of Diaz-Canel's first year in the presidency

This week was one year since Cuba changed its head of state. Miguel Díaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro in power, what for some meant hope of transition in the Cuban regime. However, The 59-year-old engineer promised - during his inauguration - to give continuity to the revolutionary project of the Castro family, which would bring down any opportunity to reform the rigid reality of the Caribbean island.

Leer en español: Cuba: ¿cuál es el balance del primer año de gobierno de Díaz-Canel?

It is in this contradiction between a horizon of change and the continuity of a worn-out model that Cuba has traveled this past year. This being so, how has President Díaz-Canel performed since his possession?

Initially, the creation of a new constitution exacerbated the expectations of reforms in the Cuban political system. The new proposals included the recognition of private property; the reintroduction of the president and the prime minister, in addition to the separation of his faculties from those of the head of the Council of Ministers; the establishment of a free market, in addition to the recognition of various civil liberties.

Although this new constitution is shown as a way towards the political and social evolution of Cuba, it entered into force on April 10, after it was approved via referendum by -according to Reuters- 84.4% of the electorate qualified to vote. This way, judging its effects after less than a month of effectiveness would be naive, although what's certain is that the legitimacy of the new constitution is not necessary to introduce substantial changes in Cuban daily life.

An example of this is the gradual introduction of the Internet in the lives of Cubans. Before it was a restricted service with little penetration, but since 2014 it has become an objective of the regime, as it improves access conditions for Cubans and foreigners. Even President Diaz-Canel opened his own Twitter account, as a strategy to approach the Internet for Cubans. However, according to the Cuba Debate portal, coverage on the island does not reach 50% for internet in homes and mobile internet service reaches 66% of the territory.

Read also: What Operation Freedom leaves so far

The United States embargo

In addition to this, the United States will intensify the trade embargo that already had a tax on the island. The government of Donald Trump activated title III of the so-called Helms-Burton Law, the same that regulates the Cuban embargo; the consequences will be seen after the measure enters into force on May 1. An embargo can plunge any nation into economic crisis, since it does not allow, in this case, US citizens to trade with the island, forcing Cuba to seek other markets.

Clearly, Venezuela has been fundamental economic support to keep Cuba afloat during the last years, this despite the embargo. According to the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, Venezuela delivered about USD $ 18 billion for 3 years to the island.

However, the sanctions that Title III can be disastrous not for Cuba, but for companies or people with properties on the island because it empowers anyone who has lost their possessions at the hands of the Castro regime to sue the beneficiaries of said properties.

In sum, the panorama of Cuba is not encouraging, but it can not be thought that it is solely the product of the current government's management. Relations with Venezuela and the US are fundamental for the development of the island and the entry into force of the new constitution could prompt a change - albeit a slow one - but potentially substantial.

 

LatinAmerican Post | Iván Parada Hernández

Translated from "Cuba: ¿cuál es el balance del primer año de gobierno de Díaz-Canel?

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